The politics of innovation in French higher education: The university institutes of technology

Research paper by John H. Van De Graaff

Indexed on: 01 May '76Published on: 01 May '76Published in: Higher Education


The creation of the French university institutes of technology (IUTs) in 1966 is characteristic of attempts by a number of industrialized nations to establish institutions of higher education better adapted than the traditional university to new cohorts of post-secondary students. The IUTs provide intensive short-cycle programs to train middle-level personnel in technical and administrative fields. Although the courses are designed as terminal, over one-third of IUT graduates go on to higher education, including a disproportionate number of students from lower social strata. Their staff are drawn from the universities, technical secondary education and the professions. Administratively, the IUTs occupy an uneasy position partly connected with the universities and partly under direct ministerial authority; there is substantial involvement on the part of representatives of employers and trade unions as well. Despite this ambivalence of function and status, the IUTs are now well established as a modestly successful innovation. They represent a major aspect of the attempt by French policy-makers to introduce more effective methods of instruction and evaluation into the universities and to render them more responsive to the needs of the society and the economy.